Northeast still hostile to junta: E-saan Poll

Despite the junta’s attempt to restrict criticism of the regime-backed draft charter, a public poll conducted in northeastern Thailand, the Isaan region, shows that Isaan people are still hostile to the military regime.

E-saan Poll, a public poll of the Faculty of Economics of Khon Kaen University, reveals that 60.3 percent of Isaan people rejected the draft constitution while 65.8 per cent were against the second referendum question on allowing the unelected senate to jointly vote with the House of Representatives to select the future Prime Minister, Isaan Record news reported.

If the draft constitution had been rejected in the referendum, 70.3 per cent of poll respondents disapproved of the option of having another junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee while 67.8 per cent said that CDC members should be elected by the people.

Asst Prof Suthin Wianwiwat, head of the E-saan Poll Centre, said that the poll was conducted to survey the opinions of Isaan people about the draft constitution. It was conducted prior to the referendum between 2 and 4 August 2016. Poll respondents were 1,096 eligible referendum voters from 20 Isaan provinces.

Among the respondents, 33.9 per cent said that they understood about 20 per cent of the content of the draft constitution, 21.5 per cent of the people understood 40-59.9 per cent of it, 10.2 per cent understood about 60-79.9 per cent and 8.4 per cent of the respondents understood about 80-100 per cent.

The poll also showed that 73.8 per cent of the respondents said that they would participate in the 7 August referendum while 26.2 per cent said that they would not cast their ballots.

Among those who refused to participate in the referendum, 78.5 percent said that they disapproved of the junta’s proposal to let the unelected senate join the House of Representatives in selecting the future Prime Minister.

Of the 20 Isaan provinces with about 17 million eligible referendum voters, the majority of voters in 14 provinces voted against the junta-backed draft constitution.

As with the 2007 constitutional referendum, the result of the Isaan vote came as no surprise to many people.  The region is known to be the prime supporter of the Pheu Thai Party and the main beneficiary of the party’s pro-poor policies.

According to the official referendum result from the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), 29.75 million people participated in the 7 August referendum, or 59.40 per cent of all eligible voters.

61.35 per cent of those who voted, or 16.82 million people, approved the draft constitution while 58.07 per cent or 15.13 million approved the regime’s proposal to let the unelected senate join the House of Representatives in selecting the future Prime Minister.